We have the complaint now, which we’ve posted below, and we’ll run down some of the interesting details. This makes the eleventh lawsuit filed recently against Narconon Arrowhead, but what makes this one somewhat unique is that it was filed by a local newspaper reporter who says she was harmed when she went through the program in 2009 and 2010.
And like others, she says she saw employees of Narconon trading drugs for sex.
Rachel Petersen went to Narconon Arrowhead to treat a drug addiction in November, 2009.
Like others, she was referred to the rehab center by a generic website that touted Narconon’s 70 percent success rate. As we’ve previously reported, Narconon’s internal documents and its former employees say those success claims are completely bogus.
And so are claims made to patients about the kind of treatment they’re going to get — Petersen alleges that she was told she “would be treated by qualified counselors and medical personnel, all of which were false.”
She was quoted a discounted price of $27,500 for her treatment and paid $17,500 up front, with her insurance company paying the balance of $10,000.
But Petersen says she was told that her insurance company had refused to pay, so she was convinced to pay the balance herself. Later, she found out that the insurance company had paid some portion of the $10,000.
(This reminds us of the claims that were made against the Narconon facility in Atlanta, which is now under a criminal investigation for insurance fraud.)
Petersen also alleges that she witnessed employees “selling medications to the patients in exchange for money, sex or other trade, similar to an inhumane third world country.”
Finally, after her treatment, Petersen was also convinced to pay $7,000 to then be trained as a counselor.
She’s suing for breach of contract and civil conspiracy, and her lawsuit says she will be asking for more than $45,000 in actual damages and more than $75,000 in punitive damages.
Petersen is a reporter for the McAlester News-Capital, a local newspaper that has been aggressively covering the controversies at the Narconon facility. And in fact, last year, Petersen herself wrote about a lawsuit filed after the April 2012 death of patient Hillary Holten.
We asked Petersen’s attorney Gary Richardson about that. He tells us that Petersen had notified her bosses at the newspaper that she had been a patient at the facility. That the paper still allowed her to write about the rehab center as a former patient is a curious decision in journalistic terms, but it shouldn’t affect her lawsuit.
We asked Richardson about the sex-for-drugs claims that have appeared in more than one of the suits he’s filed lately — we wondered how important those claims were to the cases and how difficult it would be to prove those allegations.
“That’s going to be so easy,” Richardson says. He said he was confident that his clients will be able to prove their claims because Narconon has such a track record of deception.
“They lie about their success rates. They lie about what they do,” he says. “If you tell people that we’re going to remove any desire for drugs and we have 70 percent success, people will sell the farm to get that.” But taking advantage of those people, he adds, is reprehensible.
Here’s the complaint itself…
Posted by Tony Ortega on April 6, 2013 at 14:45